How Discovery delivered for Gatwick Diamond Business

Our Discovery sessions are a popular starting point for new businesses and established organisations who want to refresh and reinvigorate their marketing.

In this article we explore how we took Gatwick Diamond Business on a journey to discover who they really are, what their customers want and how to gain more of them.

Gatwick Diamond Business

Gatwick Diamond Business (gbd) is a Sussex-based business community which aims to connect and support its members for their mutual benefit.

Gatwick Diamond Business

Member organisations range from sole traders to employers of over 20,000 people, from a huge variety of sectors. They’re all located in Sussex, plus parts of Surrey and South London (roughly a diamond shape around Gatwick, hence the name).

This diverse membership gives the gbd community a vibrant dynamic, but it was causing them problems with their marketing: How do you speak with a compelling voice to such a varied group of businesses?

The Discovery process

gbd signed up to one of our Discovery sessions to help them coalesce their thoughts and identify practical ways they could move their marketing forward.

We met with the gbd team over three sessions, each one taking a detailed view of the business, where they are now, where they want to be, and what is needed to get them there.

Our initial focus was on how their brand is positioned, looking at what they do best and who their ideal customer is.

We then took this work and distilled it into key messages, to be reflected across their sales and marketing activities.

Finally, we brought this all together in a marketing plan, highlighting the activities which would deliver the best return on investment.

What gbd discovered

Our Discovery sessions usually give our clients two types of revelation:

1. Clarifying the big picture

Much of this is about bringing together what the business already knows…but doesn’t realise it knows. This big picture information, when properly compiled and assessed, then feeds into all future decision making.

In the case of gbd their big picture revelations included:

  • Who they are and what they do to solve people’s problems.
  • How to position their offering to appeal to their ideal customer.

2. Finding the right tactics

Once the big picture is understood, our Discovery session then helped gbd to work out the best tactics to reach and influence their ideal customers.

For example, this included:

  • How to make people sit up and take notice of gbd’s messages – regardless of business type or size.
  • What communication channels to use for the best return on investment.

The results for gbd

I’ve been on many of these workshops over the years, but what made this one different was the way that Mark made the theory relevant to the everyday; yes, we came away with much more clarity about the gbd brand, but we also had some real, practical ways we could put our new plans into action.

Jeff Alexander, CEO Gatwick Diamond Business

Discover more about your organisation

We’ve helped numerous businesses to bring together their collective expertise to better understand where they are now, where they should be and how to get there.

Read about 6 more clients we’ve helped through Discovery.

To book your Discovery session or find out more, call us on 01273 814 019 or email hello@tomango.co.uk.

 

Google Ads – how to tell if you’re being ripped off

If you’ve ever used Google search, then you’ve almost certainly seen Google Ads. These are the paid-for adverts which appear at the top or bottom of the organic (non-paid-for) search results. They have a subtle “Ad” indicator in the top left to differentiate them from organic results.

Google Ads for Change Formation

Google Ads can be a lucrative way of marketing your business – so long as they’re well managed.

Let me repeat that: so long as they are well managed.

A poorly managed Google Ads campaign can cost you a fortune, for little return on your investment.

Sometimes this is just the result of using an inexperienced Google Ads manager.

Unfortunately, however, there are agencies in our world who run Google Ads so they benefit themselves far more than their clients. We can’t say for sure whether they’re unscrupulous or just incompetent… but we have our suspicions.

This article looks at some of the ways in which agencies can get your Google Ads wrong (deliberately or not) and how you can spot the problem before it costs you too much money.

Lack of transparency

Whenever an agency is spending your money, there should be absolute transparency about what they’re doing and how this is benefiting you.

Google Ads account ownership

Some agencies will set up your Google Ads in their own account, not yours, and won’t give you access.

For some agencies it’s a policy to manage all Google Ads from their own account, but if this is the case you should at least have access to all the data about your ads, to allow you to interrogate it yourself.

Ideally, however, the agency should set up the Google Ads in an account that you own. That way you retain full control and, should you and the agency go your separate ways, you can re-use the adverts without having to set them up again from scratch,

Agreeing search terms

The Google Ads search terms are the phrases which users type into Google which will trigger your advert to appear.

You’ll often see spam emails promising to get you to the “top of Google” and some ad agencies will make the same promises.

The idea of being top of Google is great, in principle, but you need to ask the question “What search terms are we top of Google for?”

If your agency lacks transparency then you might not know the answer, and this is a problem.

In the past we’ve seen agencies who have only placed ads against unusual search terms, probably not the ones their clients need to target.

Why would they do this?

Because the cost per click on these unusual, less competitive search terms will be much lower. And, if they’re not giving you the full picture about what your money is being spent on, this gives them the opportunity to make a tidy profit at your expense. Which brings us on to our next red flag…

Clarity about what you’re paying for

Agencies will charge you for two things when running your Google Ads.

Firstly, they’ll charge you for their time in managing the campaigns. Secondly, they’ll charge you for each time someone clicks on your advert.

This is all fine (and is standard practice), however the problems start when agencies don’t tell you how much of what you’re paying is going on management fees and how much on your clicks.

This creates an immediate conflict of interest because it incentivises the agency to show your ads for low-cost clicks (unusual/uncompetitive search terms) because the cost per click is lower. They can then put a much higher proportion of what you’re paying into their pocket as management fee.

If an agency refuses to divulge how much of what you’re paying is management fee and how much is ad click budget, this is definitely one to walk away from.

Beware of what jargon might be disguising

There’s a lot of jargon associated with Google Ads. A LOT.

“Ad rank”. “Search network only”. “Campaign”. “CPM”. “Billing threshold”. “Ad group”. “CTR”. “Bid strategy”. “Display network only”. “Keywords”. “CPC”. “Ad extensions”. “PPC”. “Impressions”.

The list goes on and on.

However, you shouldn’t be expected to understand these terms (in the same way that you wouldn’t expect us to immediately understand the jargon from your industry). If your agency starts to throw jargon at you, ask them to explain it properly and, importantly, how it relates back to your business objectives.

The data you should receive

So what should a good agency share with you?

You should expect the following:

  • Sign off on the wording of every advert before it goes live.
  • Agreement about which locations you’re targeting – an ecommerce business probably needs to be country-wide, but a solicitor will might only want to advertise in their local catchment area.
  • Regular (probably monthly) reporting on:
    • Number of clicks on your adverts
    • Cost per click
    • The search terms that triggered the adverts that received clicks
    • The conversion rate (e.g. ecommerce sales, contact form completions, clicks on your phone number)
Takeaway: Don’t work with any agency that isn’t happy to give you the full picture about how they’re spending your money.

Posting ads when people search for your brand/company name

Now, first and foremost, we should say that this is not always a bad thing to do. If, for example, a competitor’s advertising when someone searches for your brand name, then running your own ads to drown them out may well be a good tactic.

However, advertising against your own brand or company name should only be done when there’s a good reason for it. If your advertising agency are doing this, make sure you ask them what that good reason is.

Read more about running ads for your own brand name.

Why could this be problem?

The issue comes with the fact that when someone searches for you by name (eg “Tomango brand agency”) they are highly likely to click on the first thing they see that takes them to your website.

Normally, this would be your website’s listing in the organic (unpaid) search results.

But if you’re advertising, then your ad will appear above the organic search results, so will receive more clicks.

Your ad agency can proudly show what a fantastic conversion rate it has (in terms of the proportion of people searching who then click on your ads). But, of course, these people would have ended up on your website anyway, even if the ads weren’t running, because they were looking specifically for you and would have clicked on your organic search result (which wouldn’t have cost you anything).

BC SoftWear Google Ad
Generally we don’t recommend Google Ads when someone searches for you by name. However, in this case, our client (BC SoftWear) has a distributor (Salons Direct) running adverts when someone searches for “bc softwear”. There’s a risk that someone will click on their advert, rather than the BC SoftWear organic listing immediately below it. Therefore, we’re running ads to make sure BC SoftWear themselves always appear at the top.
Takeaway: Search for your company/brand name and see if your ads appear. If they do, ask your agency why they’ve chosen to do this – they should be happy to give you an explanation.

Not weeding out unconvertable clicks

This is another way in which an agency could choose to get you more clicks, more cheaply, but without delivering the right type of enquiries. It’s putting quantity over quality – which might look good in reports but doesn’t give you the return on investment you’re looking for.

In Google Ads, as well as saying which search terms you want your ad to appear for, you can also say which search terms you don’t want it to appear for. This stops you paying for clicks from people searching for something irrelevant, or who are unlikely to ever convert.

For example, we were running an ad campaign for a cosmetic mole removal company in Tunbridge Wells. We displayed their ads when someone searched for “mole removal tunbridge wells”. We spotted another ad running against the same search term – for a furniture removals company! Any clicks on their advert would have been a complete waste of money.

Another, more complex, example is a company who sells high end, handmade kitchens. When running their advert we’re careful to remove any search terms such as “wickes kitchen” or “ikea kitchen” because people looking for these are highly unlikely to have the budget for a bespoke kitchen, so we don’t want to risk the client paying for clicks which won’t convert.

Google Ads for "hotel maidstone" search
Here we’ve searched for hotels in Maidstone. As you can see, the Google Ads include budget options such as Travelodge and Premier Inn.
Google Ads for "luxury hotel maidstone" search
If we amend the search to luxury hotels in Maidstone, the budget hotel options no longer appear. This is because they know that someone searching for a luxury hotel is unlikely to want to stay in a Travelodge, therefore advertising against this search term could cost them money for clicks which will never convert.

Your Google Ads agency should make an effort to really understand your business, your objectives, your services/products and your position in the market. If they aren’t asking these types of questions then they won’t have the knowledge to run the best campaigns for you.

Takeaway: Make sure you receive reports showing which search terms triggered your adverts to appear and check they are all relevant.

Where is your ad?

One of the simplest things to do is search in Google and see if your ad appears (DON’T CLICK ON IT – or you’ll end up paying for your own click!).

Your ad won’t appear every time. If you have a limited daily budget and look for your ads later in the day they might not appear because that day’s budget has run out. However, if your ad consistently fails to appear, then challenge your agency about why this is.

And look at where on the page your ad is appearing. Is it at the bottom of page 1? The cost per click will be cheaper for ads down there, but the click through rate is low and you’ll probably get lower conversion rates. If your ads are always at the bottom, challenge your agency about why this is.

Your ad might not even be on page 1, it might be on page 2. It’s virtually (though not completely) pointless to run ads on page 2, so again you should challenge your agency about why they’re adopting this strategy.

We should add, at this point, that we’re very happy to be challenged by our own clients! Often we just need to provide a bit of additional explanation, but sometimes the conversation will give us some fresh insights and ideas to help improve the ads further. So don’t be afraid to speak up.

Takeaway: Look for your ads on Google and challenge your agency if they’re not appearing in a good position on page 1.

Should you use an agency at all?

So, having taken you through the murky world of how you could be ripped off by a Google Ads agency, does that mean you shouldn’t use one at all?

Absolutely not! The right Google Ads agency will bring a huge amount of experience and expertise to your adverts and ensure that you’re getting every drop of benefit from them.

Managing them yourself can be a real headache. They’re complicated to set up, the Google Ads support team will keep calling you about “optimising” them (though this is primarily about helping Google to make more money from them) and we have seen them spiral out of control without proper management.

It’s not so much a question of whether you should use an agency, but of finding the right agency.

If you think we could be the right agency to manage your Google Ads, give us a call on 01273 814 019 or email hello@tomango.co.uk.

Sussex brands we love – The Brewhouse Project

Great branding deserves to be celebrated – whether it’s our own work or the branding of local businesses we buy from.

So we’re creating a series of articles featuring “Sussex brands we love” in homage to some of the great (non-Tomango) branding work out there.

These aren’t all big businesses, in fact many are very small. And they aren’t all perfect – but each one has something very special about them which caught our eye and makes them stand out from the crowd.

These aren’t clients of ours (not yet, anyway) so we’re assessing their brands from the outside.

Ultimately this means we don’t really know whether they’re a success or not – because we don’t know what market they intended to target or how many of those customers they’re actually attracting. But we suspect that they’re doing pretty well.

In this post, we’re shining a light on The Brewhouse Project.

About The Brewhouse Project

The Brewhouse Project is a family run bar and café which is attached to the independent craft brewery, Arundel Brewery. Based just outside Arundel in West Sussex, they’re in a fairly populous part of Sussex and conveniently located just off the busy A27.

Open daily, they serve beer, coffee and food during the day. Thursday to Saturday they’re also open in the evening for various events, such as music, quizzes and pop-up shops, with private event hire available Monday to Wednesday evenings.

The Brewhouse Project’s brand positioning

Everything about this brand tells you that it’s targeting people from their mid 20s to mid 40s who appreciate a quality experience within a relaxed atmosphere. References to school holidays and children being welcome (until 8pm) make it clear that it’s a family-friendly establishment.

They clearly differentiate themselves from pub or coffee shop chains by making their “independent, family run” status prominent on their website and social media bios.

The Brewhouse Project Instragram bio

The informality of the brand makes you feel welcome, however there’s a contemporary edge to it that makes it clear that your nanna and her friends probably won’t want to come here for a quiet cuppa.

They also make it clear that a certain standard of behaviour is expected from their clientele; this is a venue that won’t tolerate nuisance drinkers.

The brand also has a strong community feel to it, clearly focusing on its local market. Their monthly feature of a local photographer on their Facebook page or charity bike rides around Sussex are good examples. They’re also keen to support other local businesses. We’re confident that this is driven by genuine community spirit – rather than a cynical attempt to ingratiate themselves locally (you can usually spot those tactics a mile off).

What’s in a name?

The Brewhouse Project

Let’s start with “Brewhouse”. Perhaps they simply chose this to distinguish themselves from the sister company Arundel Brewery, but we think there might be more to it than that.

The word brewhouse has a different tone to it. It sounds more personal, intimate, a bit less commercial. In fact there’s good reason for this – originally brewhouses were breweries attached to private residences, rather than part of a commercial operation.

Using “The…Project” gives it a pleasingly retro feel, and also suggests that this is something which is a work in progress, always evolving and coming up with new ideas to delight their customers.

We feel the choice of name is one of their strongest assets, succinctly communicating so much more than the fact that they sell beer.

Visual brand identity

The Brewhouse Project logo

Their “house” logo enhances this feel of it being a small, friendly business. Sensibly, they haven’t tried to cram “The…Project” into the logo, just retaining the key “Brewhouse”.

Their monochrome logo and underlying colour palette reflects that of Arundel Brewery and is used to good effect across their marketing.

Instagram-style filters have been applied to photos to give them more contrast and ensure that the base of black and white never looks boring. They use a good blend of original photography (the filters helping to disguise any imperfections in less professional shots) and stock photos.

The ‘pinboard’ style presentation of the photos on the website and Facebook cover image gives them a suitably contemporary and relaxed feel.

The Brewhouse Project website

Tone of voice

The tone of voice across their communications is consistently informal and friendly, conveying their enthusiasm for their business. You feel that you’ll be welcomed when you walk in the door.

This includes when they are communicating more serious information – there’s a good balance between informality and getting their message across, without sounding officious.

The Brewhouse Project Code of Conduct
Their website’s code of conduct is a good example of this.

Being picky

No-one’s perfect, and there are a few things we’d change about The Brewhouse Project’s brand.

There could perhaps be a little more consistency across their marketing. Their Twitter account hasn’t been updated for a while and it looks like their current brand identity hasn’t been rolled out to it, yet they still have a link to it from their website. Plus, their menu and private events flyer don’t feel like they’ve been given quite the same level of design care and attention as their other marketing:

The Brewhouse Project private hire flyer
More could be done with the private hire leaflet, and the constant use of capital letters is inconsistent with other marketing collateral.

Also, although we like their logo, could it be a little too “naïve”? We’d maybe recommend something which is a bit more sophisticated in design terms, to give it a more contemporary, and perhaps warmer, feel.

But overall, we feel this is a great business making the most of their brand’s USP across their marketing.

Build your own superb Sussex brand

We love working with ambitious Sussex businesses (and further afield) who understand the value that a great brand can bring to their bottom line.

Get in touch to discover if we’re the right people to help you find more of the customers you want.

Thinking inside the box

As with any business expenditure, your marketing spend should be judged by the return on investment.

Google Ads are a great example of this. We can almost guarantee that we could run a Google Ads campaign for your business which will bring in plenty of sales leads. However, in some extreme cases, you might have to pay £40 for every click on your advert.

Now, depending on what sort of business you’re in, you might have one of two reactions to this:

Good grief, we only make £20 from every widget we sell! Paying £40 for someone who might not even buy is absolutely ridiculous!

That sounds great! We make £100,000 from every widget we sell, so if we could get just 1% of those ads to convert, we’ll be laughing!

We should add at this point that most clicks on Google Ads cost much, much less than this, sometimes pennies. But you see the point we’re trying to make.

Which leads me to an example of how one of our clients did choose to spend £40 per sales lead.

About the client

Established in 1996, Agon Systems is a cutting-edge retail security company. They sell those security tags that are attach to clothing and other products, and the door sensors which set off an alarm if you try to leave the store with the tag still attached.

In 2014 they launched the Concept Tag, the most secure tag on the market. It’s been a huge success. Primarily used for high value clothing items, stores which introduce the Concept Tag typically see thefts decrease by at least 50%.

Since its launch, sales have flourished, with the company winning many high profile and high value contracts, including JD Sports, River Island, Superdry, Nike and Matalan.

Agon Systems rebrand

Agon Systems approached us in 2014 with a brief to reposition their brand to support the launch of the Concept Tag.

Read more about our brand strategy work for Agon Systems.

As part of the rebrand project we developed the usual marketing materials to help them get a foot in the door with big retailers – website, brochures, exhibition stands, etc.

But we also wanted to explore some other ideas – something a bit different, to help them stand out from the crowd and hammer home their marketing messages.

Video in a box

We came up with the idea of packaging a video presentation of the Concept Tag, which could be given or sent to any potential sales leads.

The prospective customer receives a neat black box, simply designed with the Concept Tag logo on it. It’s made of heavy weight card and has a matt laminate finish to reinforce this is a quality product.

When they open the box, they discover another box inside. The lid is kept shut with a magnetic clasp. Upon opening it they can read a brief introduction on the left and on the right is a screen which automatically plays the Concept Tag promotional video. There’s a play button and volume control, and a charging lead to enable you to connect it to your PC.

The beauty of this little black box is that as well as undoubtedly impressing the recipient, the portability of the video box and its integrated socket enables them to download the video, making it easy to share with other stakeholders in the business.

Agon Systems’ market for the Concept Tag is relatively small; large retailers purchase security systems centrally rather than through each store, so they can be very targeted with who they want to reach out to. And each sale can be worth millions.

This means that the initial investment in designing the video and its packaging, plus the £40 it costs to produce each completed item, is well worth it.

Return on investment

This simple, yet sophisticated device has helped Agon Systems stand out with its target customers. It’s an essential tool for them at trade fairs and other events where they may only have a couple of minutes to speak to prospects. Handing over this beautiful video box gives them the opportunity to make a lasting impression.

Agon Systems’ CEO Sean Welch finds it particularly useful:

The people I’ve given the video box to have loved it – and been very impressed. It sets us apart and really showcases the benefits of the Concept Tag. It’s helped us get a foot in the door on many occasions and is a very successful part of our sales and marketing toolkit.

Let us think outside the box for your brand

We love to find innovative new solutions and design ideas to raise the standard of your marketing.

But we always do this strategically, aligning your marketing to your brand. Whether it makes sense to spend £40 or 4p for each prospect, we’ll find a solution that gives you the return on investment that you need.

Call us for a chat on 01273 814 019 or email hello@tomango.co.uk.

 

 

You think a good website is expensive? You should see the cost of a bad one

When I tell a prospective client about how much a good website should cost, sometimes they react with surprise – mainly I think because it can be hard to compare like-for-like, especially if you don’t buy a new website very often.

A website’s a website, right? How could it be that expensive?

Maybe a better way of looking at it would be to consider the damage you could do to your business if you get it wrong…

So, what’s the cost of a bad website?

How about £240,000?*

As with most things in life, with website design you get what you pay for, and going cheap can end up costing you more than you’d think.

Businesses usually get quoted a wide range of prices for a website. So what’s the right amount to spend? £1,000? £5,000? Our clients invest on average £20,000 in their websites – is that the right amount?

It got me thinking about one of my favourite quotes about design, from Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover:

If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.

Likewise, if you think a good website is expensive, you should see the cost of a bad website.

So in this post, I’m going to point out some of the differences between a low-cost website and something more expensive (like the kind of website you’d get from Tomango).

I’ll show you how each of these elements of good website design has a direct impact on your business, and why it’s usually a false economy to go cheap.

*This a real-life story of a client that came to us having done just that; and ended up nearly £240,000 poorer as a result.

Calculating the cost of a bad website

You might not think that the quality of your website is that important to your business.

But when you break it down, the costs really start to add up.

When you cut corners with a cheap website, it affects your web traffic, your conversion rate and your ability to charge higher prices – and that’s just for starters.

We’re going to look in more detail at the cost to your business of a website that:

  1. Isn’t built properly for search visibility
  2. Isn’t built for optimum performance
  3. Provides a poor customer experience
  4. Has a poor conversion rate
  5. Has poor positioning, messaging and design
  6. Needs lots of input from you, or worse, goes horribly wrong

Meet our example businesses

For the purposes of this exercise, I’ve used two fictitious businesses as examples of how good website design can impact your own business’s bottom line;

Fictitious Business #1: Cavendish Wilkes Luxury Handbags

Cavendish Wilkes sells luxury leather handbags and purses. Established twenty years ago, the company has grown quite nicely into a business with a turnover of £500,000. Their handbags sell for around £200 each.

Fictitious Business #2: Bellman IT

Bellman provides managed IT services to small and medium-sized businesses across London and the South East of the UK. Founded ten years ago, the business has a turnover of around £2m. A new client will typically spend between £5,000 and £10,000 per year.

Let’s take a look at how the fortunes of these two businesses are affected by the quality of their websites…

1. The cost of a website not built properly for search

Over time, website developers have agreed on best practices for the layout of the code that makes up a website. Search engines understand these standards and are designed to look for content in specific areas of that code.

A poorly built website may look OK to humans, but to Google, it could be a confusing mess where nothing’s in the right place. This can lead to your pages ranking poorly against your competitors.

Really poor practice could even get you removed from the leading search engines altogether.

The best websites are built for both humans and search engines.

3 common issues are:

  1. Missing meta title and description – without this, the search engine has to guess what the page is about
  2. Incorrect markup and misuse of headings – without this, search engines won’t know what the main content of the page is. For example, it could think the text in your site footer is more important than the main article
  3. Incorrect robots.txt file or sitemap – one small mistake in these files could make Google ignore your website completely

The commercial impact of a website that has limited search visibility may seem obvious – but when you break it down into numbers, you can really see the difference it makes to your bottom line.

Fact: Websites appearing in the top 3 of search results enjoy from 34% (#1) to 11% (#3) of clicks, compared to 5% (#6) or less for those further down the page.

Source: Smart Insights

The cost in numbers of poor search visibility

Let’s say Cavendish Wilkes has an average order value of £200 and gets around 200 orders each month, from various sources of advertising and marketing. It appears in the bottom half of page 1 for one of the main search terms they want to target. What difference could it make if they were in the top 3?

If that one search term gets 1,000 searches per month, they have an average conversion rate of 10%, and their average sale/order value is £200, this is the impact it has:

Search position #1 #3 #6 (current)
Click Through Rate 34% 11% 5%
Website visitors 340 110 50
Orders 34 11 5
Total sales £6,800 £2,200 £1,000
Lost sales PER MONTH   -£4,600 -£5,800

So lifting the ranking for this one search term by a handful of places could result in additional sales of £5,800 per month or, if you prefer, £69,600 per year.

What about our example B2B business?

Bellman IT has an average order value of £5,000 and gets 10 new clients on average each month. It also appears towards the bottom of page 1 for one of its target search terms. Let’s take a look at what difference it makes if this started to appear in the top 3.

If their target search term gets 200 searches per month, their average enquiry rate is 20% (of which they convert 20% into orders), and their average sale/order value is £5,000, this is the difference it could make to their sales:

Search position #1 #3 #6 (current)
Click Through Rate 34% 11% 5%
Website visitors 68 22 10
Enquiries 13 4 2
Orders 3 1 0.4*
Total sales £15,000 £5,000 £2,000
Lost sales PER MONTH   -£10,000 -£13,000

*Obviously you can’t have 0.4 of an order, but you get the idea

For Bellman, improving their search ranking by a few places for just this one search term could give them extra sales of £13,000 per month (that’s £156,000 per year).

So as you can see, investing in a website built properly to give you the best chance of being found on Google is money very well spent.

For more detail about how to build a website optimised for search, Google has put together this overview: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/beginner/seo-starter-guide.

2. The cost of a website not built for performance

A website that’s built poorly (and cheaply) is unlikely to do well when it comes to performance.

In simple terms, poor performance makes a website feel slow.

It could be more likely to crash – and as well as customers not being able to find you, search engines will penalise you too.

Even if your website is super-reliable, if it’s slow, it’s killing you.

The best websites are built to be reliable and quick.

Research shows that if there’s a delay in more than 2 seconds in page load, 87% of visitors are likely to abandon your site.

3 common issues are:

  1. Poorly written code – inefficient code means slow loading pages and, in worst cases, a website that continually crashes. People will lose trust in your brand if the website crashes, especially if they’re filling in a form or making a payment
  2. Reliance on pre-built themes and plugins – many people choose to use pre-built themes and plugins as they’re cheap and flexible, but the code used for these themes is bulky and often has large portions that simply aren’t needed. What you might not realise is that if you have 10 extra features in a theme but you’re not using them, all that code is still being loaded, which can slow down your site by x10
  3. Cheap hosting – if the servers running your website aren’t powerful enough, they may buckle under pressure. If you’re aiming to increase site traffic and sales, you need hosting that can stand up to the load, otherwise your investment in marketing will be wasted
Worried about your website being slow? Read our article about how to make your website faster.

A website that’s slow will have a significant negative impact on sales or enquiries. Walmart found that when load times jump from 1 second to 4 seconds, conversions declined sharply. Source

They also found that for every 1 second of improvement, conversions increased by 2%.

These seemingly small increases have a big impact on how much business your website can generate.

The cost in numbers of a slow website

Using the website traffic volumes from before, let’s look at how improvements in performance affect our two example businesses:

Cavendish Wilkes manages to improve its load speed by 2 seconds, and increases conversion rate by 4%:

Original Improved
Website visitors 340 340
Conversion rate 10% 14%
Orders 34 47
Average Sale £ £200 £200
Total sales £ £6,800 £9,400
Extra sales PER MONTH   +£2,600

Here’s what happens when Bellman IT achieve similar improvements:

Original Improved
Website visitors 68 68
Conversion rate 20% 24%
Enquiries 13 16
Orders (20%) 3 3.2
Total sales £ £15,000 £17,500
Extra sales PER MONTH   +£2,500

These numbers get even more significant for bigger businesses. If you’re taking £10,000,000 of orders a year, a 2% increase is £200,000 of extra revenue.

For more information, here’s the detailed guide from Google on page speed: https://web.dev/vitals/

3. The cost of a website that gives a poor customer experience

Websites with poor design can be confusing to navigate and leave users feeling frustrated.

If you can’t find the button you’re looking for, it might prevent you making a purchase or completing a contact form.

The best websites are enjoyable and pleasant to use; you can find everything you want, where you expect it to be.

Here’s a great example of a terrible customer experience: userinyerface.com (have a go at filling out the form – it’s enormous fun).

3 common issues are:

  1. Confusing Calls to Action (CTAs) – links that aren’t in obvious places or do things you don’t expect can put someone off your website quickly and customers go elsewhere
  2. Poorly laid out forms – badly designed forms can leave a user confused about what data they should put into what field. Error messages can be as good as useless, users may get frustrated or even be unable to make a purchase
  3. Content that’s hard to get to – if your main goal is for a customer to buy a particular product or make an enquiry, it should be obvious how to do it. Visitors can feel lost and unsure where to go without clear design direction and abandon your website altogether

Conversely, when time and thought are given to the best customer experience, the opposite happens and you increase your conversion rate and achieve more sales.

4. The cost of a website with a poor conversion rate

Creating a good user experience is the first step, but if you haven’t given thought to how to maximise your conversion rate, you’re still leaving money on the table.

The best websites are optimised to convert the maximum number of visitors into sales.

So, how can you improve your conversion rate?

The specific tactics will differ for each website depending on your offering, your positioning (more on this in a minute) and your customers’ behaviour.

But the key to improving your conversion rate is always in the detail.

These are the sort of questions you need to be asking yourself:

  • What words should I use in my headline to get customers read on?
  • Would it be better to show an image of a happy customer, or of my product?
  • Where’s the best place to put the “Buy now” button?
  • Is “Buy now” better than “Add to basket”?
  • Which is my best case study and how should I present it?
  • What’s the best number of fields to have on my contact form?

Working out the answers to these questions takes time and expertise; and leaving them unanswered means leaving money on the table. Paying for that time and expertise is money well spent.

The cost in numbers of poor conversion rates

Let’s take a look at how an improvement in conversion rate affects our two businesses.

When Cavendish Wilkes improves the user experience on its website it increases the conversion rate by 10%:

Original Improved
Website visitors 340 340
Conversion rate 10% 20%
Orders 34 68
Total sales £6,800 £13,600
Extra sales PER MONTH +£6,800

Here’s what happens when Bellman IT do the same thing:

Original Improved
Website visitors 68 68
Conversion rate 20% 30%
Enquiries 13 20
Orders (20%) 3 4
Total sales £15,000 £20,000
Extra sales PER MONTH +£5,000

5. The cost of a website with poor positioning, messaging and design

One of the most common mistakes I see businesses make is when a website doesn’t make it clear who the business serves and why a customer should be interested in buying something from them.

This comes from a lack of positioning; how a business positions itself in its marketplace, what makes it different and, most importantly, why the customer should care.

The best websites resonate with their target audience, generating more sales and greater customer loyalty.

A good website design translates that positioning into clear messaging (what you say to your customers) and reflects your brand values – trying to sell a premium brand product on a cheap crappy website is extremely difficult.

But if you get your positioning and messaging right, you’ll be able to:

  1. Attract more of your perfect customers
  2. Eliminate competitors, by making your offering clearly different
  3. Increase the amount you can charge

And as our good friends at Pricemaker will tell you, it’s a well-known fact that improving your pricing is the #1 way to increase your profits.

The cost in numbers of poor messaging

Let’s look at how a price increase, brought about by strong positioning and messaging, can affect sales figures for our two example businesses:

Let’s say Cavendish Wilkes successfully improves its positioning and messaging. They attract more of their perfect customers, so they increase their conversion rate and they’re able to increase prices by 10%:

Original Improved
Website visitors 340 340
Conversion rate 10% 20%
Orders 34 68
Average sale value £200 £220
Total sales £6,800 £14,960
Extra sales PER MONTH +£8,160

Here’s what happens when Bellman IT do the same:

Original Improved
Website visitors 68 68
Conversion rate 20% 30%
Enquiries 13 20
Orders (20%) 3 4
Average sale value £5,000 £5,500
Total sales £15,000 £22,000
Extra sales PER MONTH +£7,000

6. The cost of a website project that needs lots of input from you or, even worse, goes horribly wrong

Website projects should run smoothly and be delivered on time, on budget and with the minimum of disruption to your business.

One of the key reasons why the price of websites varies so much is the amount of time and effort the client is expected to put into the project.

With cheaper websites, check what you’ll be responsible for

1. Content writing

Writing content for your website is easy, right? Surely it won’t take that long – hell, you could probably do it in a couple of weeks. And you know how to write, don’t you?

Well, let’s consider that your website’s probably going to have at least ten pages. If your content’s going to be any good, each page needs to be planned, structured, researched, written (at least 500 words), proof-read and have images found for it.

 

For a professional copywriter to do this would probably take about 2-3 hours per page. And they’re professionals – let’s be optimistic and say it will take you 3-4 hours per page. That’s 30-40 hours.

Or 4-5 complete work days. If you work 9-5 with no breaks.

What’s the cost of this time to you? Time you could spend meeting customers, working on your marketing, or developing new products or services?

More expensive websites will usually include all the copywriting (ours do), which not only saves you valuable time but also makes the end result much, much better.

Still thinking you’d be better writing it yourself? Read more about the benefits of using a professional copywriter.

2. Populating the site

With a cheap website project, you might need to add the content to your site yourself.

Again, that’s probably something you can do, and it won’t take long, right?

If you haven’t learnt the lessons from the copywriting, my friend, you’re going to learn them here.

You’ll need to be familiar with the Content Management System, or learn pretty fast. Then you’re going to need to be good enough to be able to add the content and make it look good.

A couple of hours per page, perhaps? That’s another 20 hours.

And if you do it yourself, is it going to provide the best User Experience, and deliver a good Conversion Rate? (see points 3 and 4 above)

More expensive websites will include populating the website with all that lovely content that’s been written for you. And every single page will be optimised for the best User Experience and maximum Conversion Rate.

3. Testing

With a cheaper website, you’re going to have do the testing as well, I’m afraid.

You’ll need to go through each and every page checking for typos or errors. You’ll need to learn how to check for the behind-the-scenes things that search engines will be looking for, or risk having a less effective website if you don’t (see point 1).

You’ll also need to check every contact form, to make sure the customer’s data ends up where it should, or the basket and checkout process of your ecommerce site to make sure they work properly. And have you stress-tested it with highly variable data (extremely long names, unusual addresses etc.) and for the common mistakes that customers tend to make?

Once you’ve done all that, you’ll need to repeat the whole exercise on various devices and on different browsers.

With expensive websites, thorough testing should be included. When the site’s delivered to you, all you should be thinking about are small changes – nothing more stressful than swapping a couple of paragraphs around, or whether to use a semi-colon in a sentence instead of a comma.

Delays

Having to spend lots of your own time on a website project is bad enough, but it’s even worse if things start to go wrong.

Not only does this mean you’re likely to have to spend even more of your valuable time on the project, but delays mean you’ll be missing out on the increased sales your new website’s going to bring you.

The most common causes of delays are:

1. Poor planning

A lack of attention to detail during the planning stage (or, even worse, a complete absence of one), means there’ll probably be a mistake or misunderstanding somewhere along the line.

The classic situation we hear of is when the draft website’s been delivered, all ready to go, and the client ends up with something very different to what had been discussed with the designer.

We’ve fine-tuned our planning process over the last 20+ years to make sure everyone involved in the project (you the client, the designers, the developers, the copywriters, EVERYONE) knows what’s expected right from the beginning.

Make sure your website designer has a robust planning process in place and that you’ve agreed on exactly what you’re going to get, and when, before you start.

2. Poor processes

Of course, the planning’s just the start.

A properly-run website project should follow a well-defined process to make the whole experience enjoyable and exciting – not excruciatingly painful.

There should be a series of clearly defined steps, including timescales, that cover:

  1. The planning (see above)
  2. The content – when does the content need to be provided or agreed? How will this be managed and how will you give feedback?
  3. The design – what will you see and when? How do you give feedback? How many rounds of changes are there? Is there a formal approval stage?
  4. The development – what does the developer need from you before they start? Do they have all the technical information they need? How long will it take? Are there stages, or do you just get to see the finished site?
  5. The testing – whose responsibility is it? If you need to do any, what will it involve and how long will it take? How long will there be between testing and the site being finished?
  6. The launch – who’s responsible for that? Will there be any downtime? What about domain names and hosting? Is there a go-live checklist?

Make sure you understand the stages of the process before you start the project and, if there seem to be gaps, make sure you’re comfortable with the consequences.

As we’re about to see, website projects that go wrong can be very, very expensive indeed…

A real-life example of a £240,000 mistake

I promised you I’d share a real-life story about how much a bad website can affect a business – and here it is.

This client has a very successful business with both B2B and B2C sales. They decided to have a new website built to improve efficiency with stock control and data entry – but the project ended up being an expensive disaster.

They did manage to make improvements to their efficiency, but the new website was coded so poorly that performance and search engine rankings fell off a cliff. Not only that, but the design impacted badly on their conversion rate and negatively affected their ability to attract good-fit customers.

Soon after the new website was launched, sales from the website dropped from £70k per month to just £30k.

When we got involved six months later to start putting things right, the new website had already cost them at least £240,000 of lost sales.

Please, please – don’t make the same mistake.

So, how much should you spend on your new website?

There will always be lots of options when it comes to investing in your new website and there’s no definitive right or wrong answer to how much you should spend.

The answer is probably (and inevitably) “It depends”.

If you need something quick and cheap, something that will “do the job” or get you started, then don’t go spending big bucks. You’re probably better off using what budget you have on digital marketing activity to generate business.

But if you’re an ambitious business looking to move up a level and start getting serious, putting a decent budget into your website isn’t an extravagant cost, it’s a sensible investment.

Tomango helps businesses grow by getting more of the customers they want. If you’re serious about building a new website to help grow your business, call us on 01273 814 019 for an initial friendly chat, or email hello@tomango.co.uk.

3 Google Easter Eggs to try this Easter

What is an Easter Egg?

In internet terms, an Easter Egg is hidden content in a website, software or game. The idea originated in Atari computer games of the 1980s.

Since then, the digital Easter Egg has taken off and can be found somewhere in most electronic media.

Is there any business value in having an Easter Egg?

Yes, there can be.

Other than simply providing a little extra delight for your website visitors or software users, once discovered they can attract a lot of attention and help to raise your brand profile.

3 Google Easter Eggs to try this Easter

There are a wealth of Easter Eggs hidden in Google, here are three of our favourites.

Atari Breakout

Go to Google search, type in Atari breakout then click on the I’m Feeling Lucky button.

Google search box showing Atari Breakout

Then all you have to do is play!

Atari Breakout game

Text adventure

Remember those old adventure games? You can get a dose of nostalgia by following these simple instructions.

First of all, search Google for text adventure.

Then click on Ctrl + Shift + i, which will bring up Google’s developer tools and you’ll see this:

Text adventure game

Type in yes where you see the > prompt and press return.

Google will then take you on an adventure – you’re the big G and need to find your friends red o, yellow o, blue g, green l and red e. (Guess what that spells). You simply need to continue to type in your response to each question.

Text adventure game

Dinosaur game

This is probably one of the best known Google Easter Eggs. You can access it when your internet is down. Google will show you this page when it can’t get online:

No internet message

When you see it, simply hit your spacebar and the game will start.

Dino game

Control your dinosaur by using the spacebar to get him to jump.

You can also play it with an internet connection, just type chrome://dino in your Chrome browser address bar and hit your spacebar to play.

Happy Easter from everyone at Tomango!

What’s the point of rebranding?

The decision to rebrand is a tough one.

There is often sentimentality for long-established brands, perhaps a loyal customer base that is familiar with the business and how it looks and behaves. There is the understandable anxiety about change and the risk of making an expensive mistake.

Many businesses undervalue their brand and don’t realise how much work it is (or isn’t) doing for them.

A well-planned rebrand can do wonders – giving you a significant competitive advantage, increased customer loyalty and access to new markets. And it can bring an injection of energy and impetus to a business that is infectious – for employees and customers alike.

Jumping for joy in the middle of a field is optional.

The value of a strong brand identity

Before we talk about rebranding we should establish why your business should be bothered about your brand at all.

A good brand identity comes with many advantages, including:

  • The ability to charge more (a strong brand identity is why people will pay more for Coke than own-brand cola).
  • An increased likelihood that customers will remember your business and remain loyal to you.
  • Creating the air of a well-established, professional business that customers can trust.
  • Differentiation from your competitors, giving you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

Read more about why your brand identity is so important to your business.

Why rebrand?

There are many potential benefits to rebranding your business.

Reconnect with your customers or find new ones

Your brand is your promise to your customers. From it, they will understand what your business is about, the service they will receive, and the expertise and experience that you bring.

A rebrand is an exciting opportunity to evolve and crystallise this message.

This can increase brand loyalty from your existing customers, which in turn gives you the opportunity to increase repeat sales and charge higher prices.

A rebrand can also give you access to new customers, for example by repositioning your brand to better appeal to a younger or more affluent audience.

In the case of the recent Facebook rebrand to Meta, this aims to change our perception of the brand from being only about social media. Mark Zuckerberg wants Meta to become a platform from which they can offer a wider range of services, such as virtual reality.

The more sceptical would say that the rebrand is to distance the company from recent negative news stories, creating a ‘clean’ brand to reconnect with existing customers and attract new ones. Whatever the real objective, a rebrand could be the best way to achieve it.

Differentiation in crowded marketplaces

In a crowded space it can be difficult to show customers exactly what sets you apart from the competition.

A rebrand can help you identify the aspects of your business and, importantly, the approach, that differentiates you from your competitors.

This competitive advantage could be used, for example, to target a specific niche within the market, portray you as a premium brand that stands above the rest, or give you an edge to win an important contract.

And if you’re not sure what makes your brand different, a Discovery Session will help you work out your unique selling points and how to use them to best effect throughout your marketing.

Charge more for what you do

We’ve already touched on this. To charge premium prices you need to be perceived as a premium brand.

A strong brand identity can help you to achieve this – lifting your stature in the eyes of your customers and enabling you to lift your prices accordingly.

Infectious energy

People like to be associated with a successful brand. They revel in the positive energy of a strong brand, whether that’s by using it as a status symbol or simply enjoying the reassurance of familiarity.

We’re not clear who’s benefiting most – Balenciaga from the association with Miley Cyrus or Miley Cyrus from the association with Balenciaga. Let’s say it’s a symbiotic relationship.

This has obvious benefits in terms of customer loyalty, but it’s also important to remember how valuable employee loyalty is. Having a strong brand reflecting the values of your business will give your team more pride in who they work for and can contribute towards higher staff retention rates.

Measuring success

A successful rebrand must have a positive impact on the bottom line – if it doesn’t then something somewhere has gone wrong. Remember the Royal Mail’s change to “Consignia”? Costing £2m back in 2001, the new brand lasted a whole 16 months before it was abandoned.

How that success is measured will be reflected by your objectives for the rebrand. While, ultimately, an uptick in turnover and profitability will demonstrate the return on your investment, more subtle measures should also be considered.

Market research can be a useful tool during the rebrand process to ensure your new brand identity is suitable for your target market. But it is also helpful once your new brand is launched, to check it’s achieving the change in perception that you wanted. Holding focus groups with your own employees can be useful in the same way.

The amount your customers are willing to pay for your products is another key measure, particularly where the rebrand has been to position you as a premium brand.

Marketing models, such as competitor matrices or the Boston Matrix, can also be useful in tracking your brand (or brands) before and after you’ve made the changes.

How we helped Stuart & Partners to rebrand

Stuart & Partners are long-established leaders in the residential lettings industry.

They were finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish themselves in a marketplace that was becoming crowded with larger, national agents. The USP of genuine expertise was getting lost.

Their existing brand identity had been around for over 15 years and was no longer reflective of the business that Stuart & Partners had become. It didn’t effectively communicate what their business is about and the service it offers to its customers.

Our role was to reposition Stuart & Partners as specialists in letting, and to undertake a rebrand through developing a new brand identity and digital presence.

Read about our work with Stuart & Partners, which has led to their delighted feedback:

This rebrand has helped us focus on what we’re best at and makes us stand out from even our biggest competitors. We’re now in a great position to attract our ideal customers.

Is it time to rediscover your brand?

If you feel that the time might be right to look with fresh eyes at your brand, we’d love to help you.

Book your Discovery Session with us and let’s see where it can take you.

What is brand equity?

Definition of brand equity

Brand equity is the perceived value of a brand. Well-known brands tend to have greater brand equity because customers believe they offer a better product or service.

As an illustration of this – if presented with two bottles of cola at the same price, one of which is branded “Coca-Cola” and the other “Bob’s cola”, most people would choose Coca-Cola.

This enables Coca-Cola to sell more bottles of cola and charge a premium for them.

Why is brand equity important?

If your brand has strong brand equity this gives you scope to increase revenue and profitability, and a competitive edge.

There are two ways you can do this:

1. Charge more – a positive perceived brand value is the gateway to becoming a premium brand and, therefore, being able to charge people more for your services.

The Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s brand equity means they can charge £8.55 for a cheeseburger. (Image courtesy of https://restaurants.gbk.co.uk/).

2. Sell more – your product or service might not suit the position of a premium brand, but strong brand equity will still enable you to increase your sales volumes and therefore your revenue.

Arguably, McDonalds has even better brand equity than GBK, however they only charge £3.37 for a Quarter Pounder with cheese. But since they are estimated to sell 50 million burgers a day, it’s still a pretty good strategy! (Image courtesy of https://www.mcdonalds.com/).

How do you measure brand equity?

It’s notoriously difficult to measure brand equity because so many things affect it, many of which are very subjective. Various tools have been developed to work it out, but there’s no generally accepted method. Big brands tend to put more of an effort into valuing their brand. For example, Coca-Cola’s brand equity was calculated to be US$87.6 billion in 2021 (source: Statista).

For most organisations it’s more practical to take a qualitative approach, perhaps by evaluating your brand’s equity in comparison to your competitors or assessing your customers’ behaviour in terms of brand recognition, loyalty or retention.

How do you increase your brand equity?

There are several schools of thought about this. One of the most popular ideas is the Aaker Model, developed by organisational theorist David Aaker.

The Aaker Model identifies five elements which can either add to, or subtract from, a brand’s equity. These are:

  • Brand loyalty (loyal customers will reduce your costs and protect you from competitors).
  • Brand awareness (greater brand awareness means your brand is more likely to be considered for purchase).
  • Perceived quality (which may go beyond the actual product features).
  • Brand associations (what customers associate with your brand and the role this plays in the buying process).
  • Other assets (eg patents or trademarks).

Strengthening each of these elements will, in turn, strengthen your brand equity.

Assess and improve your brand equity

We work with brands of all shapes, sizes and equities, helping them to get more of the customers they want.

Our services include brand discovery sessions, brand strategy development and brand identity creation.

Get in touch to find out more.

3 signs you need to rebrand

Taking the decision to rebrand is the easiest thing to put off.

There are always day-to-day priorities that take precedence and, of course, the decision involves investment of time, energy and money.

For most businesses with brands that are well-established but becoming a bit ‘tired’, there are a number of factors that, when they come together, signal the right timing for a rebrand.

Whilst it can seem a little bit scary, businesses that go through a rebrand find there’s often a renewed passion in the business and an energy for change that’s infectious and exciting.

(We understand the fear of a rebrand – I even wrote about it in our article “How rebranding my business scared the shit out of me”.)

Knowing when the time is right

But how do you know when the time is right?

From our 20+ years’ experience of working with brands of all sizes and kinds, we’ve found that there are certain common triggers and patterns that, when recognised, tell you it’s time for a change:

1. Your business has changed

When a brand has become very familiar (and possibly held in high esteem by customers and employees alike) it’s difficult to be objective about it.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to take an honest and impartial look at where you are now as a business compared to where you were – this can bring renewed clarity and be very liberating.

What might have been a great look or name 10 or 15 years ago might now be tired or out of date. Perhaps your current brand no longer reflects who you are, and is no longer an asset that’s taking your business in the direction you want.

A strong brand identity will help you attract and keep more of the customers you want.

Figuring out who those customers are, and why they’d choose to buy from you instead of a competitor, is the first step. From here, you can work out what messages you need to convey to them, and the tone of voice to use.

Discover the opportunities for your business

Book a Discovery session

This forms your brand strategy. Your brand identity needs to reflect that strategy. If it doesn’t, it’s time for a change.

With your clearly defined brand strategy in place, you’ve got the foundations to make all of your marketing much more effective at delivering a return on your investment.

Read how we refreshed and reinvigorated the brand identity of tech innovators Agon Systems.

2. Your market has changed

As time moves on, marketplaces often become more crowded. The trouble with a good, original idea or approach is that it attracts others to replicate it or to enter that particular space.

Rebranding gives you the opportunity to re-establish your business as the leaders in your field and to set yourself apart from competitors in terms of your experience, offering and approach.

You can use it to show existing customers and potential new ones what your service or product is about. It’s a chance to redefine your brand’s personality and take fresh control of what you want to say to your audience.

In an increasingly crowded marketplace, Albion Languages needed to stand out from the crowd. Discover how redefining their brand helped them attract more of their perfect customers.

3. Your customers have changed

In a competitive marketplace, what worked in the past and attracted loyal customers doesn’t always last, especially in a digital age when customers can explore alternative offerings much more easily.

Continuing to appeal to your existing market, and extending this to find new opportunities, can be a difficult nut to crack. A rebrand can help to introduce you to new customers and emphasise your appeal to existing markets.

When you focus on revitalising your brand, people notice.

Customers are spoilt for choice these days and they’re bombarded by messages left, right and centre, so it’s easy for your brand to get lost in the noise.

How your audience perceives you is critical to their choice to use your services. Having a strong, forward-looking brand identity gives customers confidence, even if they don’t realise it consciously.

The infectious energy that you and your employees feel for your brand won’t be contained, it will spread to your existing customer base and to potential customers alike. It can often be the impetus your business needs to grow its share of an evolving market.

Find out how we helped Cannadines reposition their brand online to attract the right customers for their high-end kitchens and bathrooms.

Is the time right for a rebrand?

If you’re seeing the signs that it’s time for a rebrand, get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Book your Discovery Session with us and let’s see where it can take you.

Digital marketing through a crisis

The covid pandemic has presented challenges to every business. Many have seen their revenue decimated virtually overnight.

Change Formation logo

It has been a particularly challenging time for one of our clients. Change Formation is a people development organisation, working primarily with leaders and teams from larger organisations.

As covid hit, this didn’t just impact their ability to conduct face to face training sessions, it also caused many businesses to cut back on their people development budgets.

We started working on Change Formation’s digital marketing back in 2020, at the height of the crisis. In this article we explore a few of the ways in which we helped them ride out the storm and get into the best position for when the market started to open up again.

Don’t disappear

When a crisis hits there can be a tendency to pull back on marketing activity and wait out the storm. Why spend money on marketing when your market has effectively disappeared?

But this short-term thinking can do long-term damage.

Reassess your digital marketing strategy

One of the first jobs should be to review all your imminent digital marketing activities. If there are any which would be inappropriate or insensitive to their new context, remove them. Don’t scrap them though, they could still prove useful at a later date.

You should then take time to consider your situation. Here are a few useful questions to ask yourself:

  • How have my customers’ needs changed?
  • What might happen next?
  • What new limitations are there on the products/services we offer?
  • When could this be over?
  • Are our current goals still appropriate?
  • What support is available to us?

You need to adapt your business goals and strategy according to the answers.

Once your overriding strategy is agreed you can then look at what this means for your digital marketing.

Keep in people’s minds

Even if, like Change Formation, your ability to serve your clients has reduced, it’s critical to maintain your relationships with them and stay “front-of-mind”. No crisis lasts for ever – when things pick up, you want to be in the best position to take advantage.

Keeping clients up to date with the developments in your business is one way of doing this, and useful to demonstrate that you’re still ‘in the game’. Most importantly, you should let them know how you’re adapting your services to the new situation.

Remember, nothing says “business in trouble” more than a social media account which isn’t updated for months on end. If you really can’t find the time to post to social, at least pin a message to the top explaining why it is, don’t just leave it hanging.

During the covid crisis Change Formation were still able to deliver much of their people development portfolio online. We tweaked their digital marketing to emphasise this, by updating their training program information to include the online option, writing case studies including remote learning and providing advice on supporting learning for remote workers.

Switch from lead generation to brand awareness

As the covid pandemic took hold, organisations were, naturally, focused on adapting to their own challenges. In the people development sector, unless you were a Zoom trainer, the phone simply stopped ringing.

In a situation like this, you need to switch your mindset. Stop thinking about lead generation and instead focus on brand awareness.

For many months our work with Change Formation wasn’t measured in terms of enquiries. Instead we were interested in the reach of our work. Were the key website pages bringing in a solid level of website traffic? Have a reasonable number of the right people looked at our LinkedIn posts? Did our email marketing position the brand in the right way?

Keep up the SEO work

During a crisis it can be very easy to shift focus away from SEO. This isn’t a problem if it’s just going to be for a few weeks, but if you’re looking at over a year of not adding quality content to your website then your Google ranking may suffer.

And this will be further compounded if your competitors continue (or start to) build their content – you may come out of the crisis on the back foot.

(Read more in our article Marketing in an economic downturn.)

One thing to add here, is that you shouldn’t try to cynically chase search terms related to the crisis. This will not reflect well on you. And, in the covid pandemic, for example, Google would only return authority sites such as the NHS for covid-related searches. As our next section shows, demonstrating empathy and sensitivity is of paramount importance during a crisis.

Show empathy

While it’s important to keep your digital marketing going through a crisis, it’s also essential that you consider the context in everything you do.

Your digital marketing is an opportunity to listen to your market and reflect their situation in the messages you send out, and never more so than in a crisis.

More than ever, customers value brands which show empathy and a social conscience. This Australian research by McKinsey & Co demonstrates how people appreciate it when companies show that “we’re all in this together”: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/emerging-from-covid-19-australians-embrace-their-values

At the start of the covid crisis this was quite a challenge for marketers. If you think back to the TV ads in the early days of the pandemic, there was suddenly far less variety. This was because companies quickly pulled campaigns they’d been working on for months and months which, for example, showed people not socially distancing. They had to suddenly become much more agile, creating new advertising creative in just a few weeks, to make sure they were reflecting the world they were being broadcast into.

Suddenly the glossy adverts were off our screens, replaced by humbler, but perhaps more human, offerings such as this NatWest advert.

During the covid pandemic we were acutely aware of our upcoming digital marketing activity, for Change Formation and other clients, particularly scheduled social media posts and email campaigns. We were ready to change them at a moment’s notice should the context change and our messaging become inappropriate or insensitive.

Always consider what your audience’s situation and fears might be, remembering that they might not be the same as your own. During a pandemic, if you have physical premises which customers come to, it becomes essential to reassure them about their safety by using digital marketing to explain the measures you have in place. It’s also important to communicate the alternative ways your customers can interact with you.

Consider your tone

In times of crisis it can be difficult to get the tone of your digital marketing right.

It’s all about balance. Avoid being alarmist in your messaging, but don’t ignore the bigger picture. Consider what it would be useful for people to hear right now and stick to that.

You should also be sensitive to the needs of different customers. In the B2B world you may have some clients whose business is suffering terribly. Others might be seeing a boom in profits. Consider both of these and, where possible, segment your digital marketing so you’re sending appropriate messages to each one.

Like other forms of promotional activity, digital marketing is controlled by the Advertising Standards Authority. During the covid pandemic they took a dim view of businesses who appeared to use the crisis to their advantage. For example, a seller of British-made beds published an advert showing a bed covered in a Union Flag and wearing a facemask. Underneath it stated “no nasty imports”. The ASA ruled that it was “likely to cause serious and widespread offence” and banned it.

Create content that adds value

In content marketing there’s a general rule of thumb that 80% of your content should be about adding value for the reader and 20% about selling your products or services. The 80% keeps your readership engaged and they won’t mind so much when they see the odd 20% of promotional content.

This is never truer than in a crisis, when providing useful, interesting and relevant content can really demonstrate your empathy with your audience.

With Change Formation we dedicated time to considering what type of content would add value to their readership. As a result our blog articles and email marketing activity covered topics such as setting the right tone for management communications and how to run effective meetings with hybrid working practices. We also ran a Facebook Live event at the start of 2021 to help managers plan how to manage hybrid working in preparation for a partial return to the office.

Be more personal

It’s also important to consider that in times of crisis your customers may want the reassurance of more personal messaging.

Instead of sending out marketing messages from your company, personalise them to be from a member of your leadership team. Even better, ask them to record brief video updates.

And taking a more personal approach can be a useful way of showing your “we’re all in this together” attitude. Share a screen shot of the Zoom call where someone couldn’t remove the Simpsons background their kids had set up, or explain how you’re having virtual coffee breaks to keep moral going.

When we started working with Change Formation our original brief was to make the marketing less focused on the business owner, Rob McWilliam. But, as the covid crisis went on, we felt that this was not the right approach for the email marketing. Instead we adapted the emails to be from Rob personally, giving him an opportunity to speak directly to his audience and share his personal insights. We also added a “P.S.” to each email with a podcast recommendation, ensuring each message ended on a lighter note.

Be ready to hit the ground running

No crisis lasts forever, so it’s important to keep up your digital marketing momentum so you can hit the ground running when your market opens up again.

Increase conversion

Many businesses took the opportunity of the covid pandemic to refurbish their physical premises or their online premises – i.e. their website.

Optimising your website for conversion is an activity which is often overlooked but can make a dramatic difference to your ability to convert traffic into enquiries.

Your website must align to your customer’s requirements, which may well shift in times of crisis. Therefore, your website needs to shift too.

We made a number of changes to the Change Formation website during the crisis. Initially we tweaked the text and images across the website to demonstrate that they could provide their services remotely. We then carried out a page behaviour analysis on their key conversion page (which would also become their advertising landing page), so we could identify and implement improvements.

Online advertising

Online advertising, such as Google Ads, is a highly flexible way of raising your digital visibility, because it can be dialled up and down as needed.

However, to get them right, Google Ads require a period of experimentation and refinement. You should assume that the first month, or maybe two, will give you relatively few results. So, it pays to plan your advertising in advance, so it’s optimised ready for when you really need it.

We started a Google Ads campaign for Change Formation in early spring 2021. The market was very quiet so it received relatively few clicks, however this made it an excellent time to experiment and optimise the campaign without wasting budget. By late spring the campaign was performing well, just in time for the country to start opening up again.

The results for Change Formation

One focus of our digital marketing work for Change Formation was the Insights Discovery psychometric profiling service they provide. We started work to improve the search engine visibility of this in early 2020 and introduced Google Ads in April 2021:

Traffic graph - Change Formation's Insights Discovery page

As you can see, our SEO work improved the page’s visibility, causing a gradual but significant increase in traffic across 2020. With the introduction of Google Ads, despite a conservative click budget, we were able to provide an instant additional uplift in traffic.

In the last two years we’ve also helped Change Formation to double their LinkedIn follower numbers and built an email marketing list which enjoys a solid 30% average open rate for each email sent. This increase in brand awareness and engagement has helped to keep Change Formation at the forefront of potential clients’ minds throughout the pandemic.

Rob McWilliam

“I started working with Tomango on my company branding back in 2013. When the covid pandemic hit the impact on my business was massively challenging, however I was determined to keep the fires burning ready for when things picked up again. Tomango’s digital marketing support became instrumental in helping me keep the business in great shape ready for when the market started to recover. I’m now looking to the future with great optimism. ”

Rob McWilliamManaging Director, Change Formation

Speak to us about your digital marketing

Our digital marketing services are tailored to the needs of each of our clients, and there to support them through thick or thin.

If this is the sort of marketing partnership your business could benefit from, then give us a call on 01273 814 019 or email hello@tomango.co.uk.